Fisheries Law (amended): Vietnam's commitments on IUU have been incorporated into the law

The Fisheries Law (amended) has been passed by National Assembly delegates at the 4th session of the XIV National Assembly. The amended Fisheries Law has new points to facilitate the development of the island marine economy, raise awareness and responsibility in the management of fisheries resources under the international law on IUU fishing (illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing). Related to this issue, the VNA correspondent had a talk with Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development – Mr. Vu Van Tam.

* Could you please tell us the most prominent and new points in the Fisheries Law (amended) recently passed by the National Assembly?

The Fisheries Law (amended) stipulates for co-management in protecting fisheries resources in order to raise the awareness and responsibility of people in protecting fisheries resources, step by step implement the socialization policy in the management of fisheries resources protection. The Law aims to create a legal basis for the State to grant management rights to the community organizations in the protection of fisheries resources. This is a new management approach adopted by many countries for the management of fisheries activities, especially the management of fisheries resources.

Regarding aquaculture, the Law provides more detail provisions and covers all farmed species, farming models and purposes of aquaculture. For example, the Law regulates conditions for  aquaculture not for human consumption, gives license for aquaculture at sea, allocates marine areas for farmers for aquaculture, etc. For marine aquaculture, time for allocation of marine areas is raised to 30 years and extended to a maximum of 20 years.

On licensing for fishing activities, the Law regulates fishing quotas, fishing permits, total allowable catch. This is a step in comparison with the Fisheries Law 2003 in line with the international law on the protection and preservation of fisheries resources.

Fishing quotas and permits are determined based on the results of investigation and evaluation of fisheries resources, fish stocks, sustainably allowable catch. Fishing licensing is thoroughly decentralized to Provincial People's Committees.

Under the new Law, we will transfer the management of fishing vessels based on capacity (CV) to the management based on the largest length of the vessels.

Another new point is that the Law regulates the socialization in fishing vessel registration in order to mobilize resources from the society to invest in this activity with an aim to reduce the burden on state management agencies and to facilitate fishermen.

* What are the new provisions in the Law to overcome overfishing in inshore waters as well as the use of destructive fishing gears in many localities?

The Fisheries Law 2017 derives from a scientifically based approach that is based on fisheries resources by conducting an investigation.

Fisheries resources are being over-exploited. The management will be decentralized to local authorities. In addition, the law regulates the investigation and planning of spawning grounds, breeding grounds for planning and protection.

“We will manage the fishing effort by licensing fishing vessels as well as building new fishing vessels and will come up with a prohibition on seasonal fishing according to the type of fishing that is currently taking place” said Mr. Tam.

The 2003 Law on Fisheries stipulates that this is not possible. With the status of Vietnam being withdrawn by the European Commission (EC), Vietnam is forced to take this issue seriously", said Deputy Minister Tam.

In addition, the noteworthy point in the Fisheries Law of 2017 is that the Act introduces strict sanctions against acts of IUU fishing.

* The rules related to Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing in the new Law?

This content is regulated in the Articles and Chapters of the Law. The Fisheries Law was amended in accordance with the principles of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the FAO Agreement on State Port, the United Nations Agreement on straddling and highly migratory fish stocks, the FAO guidelines for responsible fisheries, the FAO International Plan of Action for IUU Exploitation, the FAO Guidelines for Flag State Performance, focus on the 9 recommendations of the European Commission (EC).

Specifically, individuals with violations such as ship owners, captains etc., the maximum penalty up to 1 billion VND and the organization is 2 billion VND. The law also mentioned the content to withdraw the mining license, or not re-issue the mining license etc.

Viet Nam has and continues to take drastic action, making every possible way to return back “green card” within 6 months. The Prime Minister has signed the 732/CD-TTg on preventing, deterring and eliminating illegal fishing of Vietnamese vessels in foreign waters. In the official statement, if the situation continues to happen for fishermen to illegally catch in foreign waters, the chairman of the provincial People's Committee will be responsible to the Prime Minister.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has the National Action Plan. Accordingly there will be strong participation of localities and businesses. The Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP) has a voluntary commitment program of marine product exporters to the EU not to buy and sell illegal catch.

In the face of these drastic measures, the illegal fishing in foreign waters has been reduced. Typically, since Jul 2017 Quang Ngai province has recorded no fishing vessels in the province which violated.

In the coming time, MARD will set up a task force to take urgent measures to remove the “yellow card”.

  • Vinh Hoan
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